Research Projects

Anxiety Projects

The Examination of Cognitive Models of Anxiety

This study aims to examine unique predictors, using the cognitive models of social anxiety and previous research as reference, in a social anxiety challenge. Participants do not have to have social anxiety in order to be eligible. This study will last about 30 minutes and participants will be asked to complete questionnaires and a behavioral task. Interested participants have the opportunity to receive 0.5 research experience credit for eligible psychology courses at American University or $5.00 for participation. Contact Lauren Rothstein (lr4538a@student.american.edu) if you are interested in participating.

The Relationship between Social Anxiety and Intergroup Anxiety

This study will examine Rapee and Heimberg's social anxiety disorder (SAD) theoretical model to incorporate cultural considerations. The objective of the study is to look at the relationship between social anxiety symptoms and intergroup anxiety in order to reconceptualize SAD and examine the social anxiety person by situation. Further, we will look at stereotype confirmation concerns as an antecedent for social anxiety in intergroup interactions and evaluate the differences in safety behavior use for intergroup versus ingroup interactions.

Social Anxiety and Social Media

There is recent evidence that social media usage is associated with elevated social anxiety and that such usage is problematic among socially anxious individuals. The current study seeks to evaluate the level of anxiety and avoidance behavior generated from face-to-face interactions compared to that generated by interactions via social media. If you would like more information or to participate, contact Nicolette Carnahan at nc9999a@american.edu. 

Culture and Anxiety

Experiences of Racial Discrimination and Emotion Dynamics Among African Americans and Asian Americans

This study elucidates the experiences of racial discrimination among African Americans and Asian Americans. Specifically, it investigates the everyday patterns and fluctuations of negative and positive emotions as they unfold over time in reaction to explicit behavior of humiliation (e.g., racial slurs) and subtle, often unconscious, indignities toward people of color termed “microaggression” (e.g., assumed criminality). It aims to contribute to the current debate about the scientific status of the broader microaggression research program, which has recently been called into questions by scholars. In particular, they have pointed to a neglect in research to attend to the influence of personality factors and the validity of the concept of microaggression. With a few exceptions, most studies in this area have deployed a cross-sectional approach to examine individual differences to determine the outcomes of microaggression. Hence, this study attempts to address these gaps by examining if microaggression could lead to maladaptive patterns of emotion dynamics over time, and the contribution of these states toward psychological distress over and beyond the personality traits of negative emotionality and perceived victimization.

Skin Color and The Psychological Well-Being, Perceived Attractiveness, And Intragroup Biases of African American Men and Women

Hidden within the more commonly discussed notion of racism, is discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism. Colorism is a form of discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the societal meanings attached to skin color. Even more concealed is the notion of intragroup colorism, which is prejudice based on color within a racial group. The current study will focus on the unique ways colorism affects the African American community, exploring the psychological affects and the gender differences thereof.

Racial Differences in Trichotillomania

This project examines race as a predictor of perceived distress and impairment in black and white female undergraduate students who pull their body hair unrelated to grooming, or Trichotillomania. Prevalence rates of Trichotillomania are equivalent in both African American and Caucasian American samples, but levels of clinical distress and impairment experienced by both groups significantly differ. More specifically, African Americans do not consistently report experiencing impairment or distress due to pulling, unlike their Caucasian American counterparts. This project assesses the mediating and moderating effects of ethnic identity and resilience.

Colorism in the Perception of Personal Attributes

The concept of colorism refers to the discrimination one experiences or perceives as a result of their skin color. While there is evidence that colorism is still an issue for African Americans, there are several issues that have remained unaddressed. This project examines the perception of skin color in relationship to social and psychological outcomes, whether colorism is associated with psychological wellbeing (e.g., positive and negative affect, generic wellbeing, depression), and whether specific aspects of colorism are more or less salient than others. The possible influence of social desirability will be addressed by utilizing an implicit measure of color preference. The study will also examine ethnic identity as a potential moderator to the expected results. For more information on how to participate, please contact Candace Koman at ca1967a@american.edu.

Implicit Association Task and Perception of Homosexuality: Differences Between African American and Non-Hispanic Caucasian Homosexual Males

Minority Stress Theory (MST) is one of the leading theories addressing the impact of racial, sexual and gender minorities on psychological and physical health. This theory postulates that gender minority stress represents a specific psychological stress derived from being a racial and sexual minority and experiencing negative life events. While there is evidence that homosexuality and racial ethnicity represent stressors associated with psychological and physical distress, there have been few attempts to address the interaction between the two. In this study we extend the extant literature by examining the association between among ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We specifically evaluate the perception of homosexual males by homosexual males through use of an Implicit Association Task (IAT). We examine whether African American homosexual men would exhibit higher internalized homophobia and perceived racial and sexual stigma, producing higher levels of psychological distress than non-Hispanic Caucasian homosexual men. We test for the hypothesis that African American males could have a less positive perception of homosexual males as measured by the IAT regardless of the ethnicity of the image compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian males.